Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Roshniya movement

In the middle of sixteenth century, a religious sect aroused among the Pashtuns, which later on assumed the form of a political movement aiming at getting the Pashtun areas free from Mughals and establishing a true Islamic government. Roshnia was religious movement but it adopted the political cause of Afghans. Chief of this sect Bayazid collected many followers in Tirah, Bangash, Mohmand, Afridi and Yousafzai tribes. He styled himself , Pir Roshan, "an enlightened Pir", but the orthodox ulema and particularly Akhund Darveza called him "Pir Tareeki", an apostle of darkness. He enjoyed a species of social communism , and his followers were authorized to seize the land and property who would not accept their creed. Roshnia are referred to as "Tareekis" (followers of darkness) in the Mughal accounts. Pir Baba (Syed Ali Tirmizi) of Buner , represented the Orthodox school, while Bayazid was a mystic and a saint and was called a heretic by the former.

Bayazid Ansari was born in Jalandhar in East Punjab in 1525 AD. He belonged to a Syed family, long settled at Kanigaram in South Waziristan. His father's name was Abdullah. He had taken a second wife when Bayazid left his parental home in search of ilm (knowledge) to Kandahar. Finding himself insecure at Kanigaram , his ancestral home, he came to Tirah. Here at Tirah, he
Then Bayazid came to the tribe of Khalil in Peshawar, his fame reached Yousafzais and Mohamand tribes. Janis Khan was deputy governor of Peshawar under Kabul province of Mirza Hakim. He sent Bayazid to the court of Mirza Hakim for further investigation of his Maslik (creed). Mirza Hakim was pleased with Bayazid's arguments and rewarded him with many presents. From Kabul Bayazid came to Peshawar. He left the Khalil country and went to Mohmand country and won many followers there.

Bayazid Ansari

Bayazid settled in Mohmand area and formed relationship with Malik Payand Khan and Malik Bahadur Khan by intermarriages. Bayazid sent his Khalifas (disciples) to many courts including court of Akbar for preaching his 'maslik'. One of his Khalifa ,  Daulat by name, visited Emperor Akbar and presented to him one copy of "sirat-ul-tawheed" from pir-i-kamilmi.e Bayazid Ansari. It is said that Akbar was pleased to receive Daulat and rewarded him with a royal robe. Similarly another disciple, Yousaf was sent to the court of Mirza Sulieman of Badakhsan. He was also well received and rewarded. Day by day Bayazid's followers were increasing in number and strength.

Although Roshnia was a religious-social movement, it turned into political one. The orthodox school of thought of Pir Baba leveled serious allegations against it, but to the modern scholars, supporters of this movement were not heretic at all. Bayazid never claimed to have attained the status of Mehdi or Prophet. Khair-ul-bayan, Halnama, Sirat-ul-Tawheed of Bayazid were ranked among his valuable works.

Bayazid laid down eight stages for his followers to achieve ilm-ul-Tauheed. This could be achieved through guidance of a Pir-i-Kamil. These stages according to his book "Sirat-ul-Tawheed" are Shariat, Tariqat, Haqiat, Marifat, Qurbat, Wasalat, Wahdat and Sakunat.

His teachings and preachings were not liked by Mughal rulers of Kabul and Peshawar. There took place many skirmishes between Mughal forces and his followers.

First encounter with the Mughals

One of the followers of Bayazid Ansari plundered the trading caravan en-route from India to Kabul. Mirza Hakim wanted to punish his followers , by writing a letter to Masoom Khan , Governor of Peshawar , knowing about the Mughal's intentions. Bayazid left Mohmand area and took shelter in Yousafzai country. But Mughal forces though bigger in number, raided Bayazid's abode.Severe fighting took place , Bayazid faced the Mughals, though out-numbered, with only 313 followers. Mughals were defeated leaving behind 220 men dead. After this encounter Bayazid shifted his camp to Tirah in the Khyber hills.

Second encounter with the Mughals

Mughal rulers in Kabul and Peshawar were alarmed at the activities and popularity of Bayazid Ansari among the Pashtun tribes of Peshawar. Once, according to Halnamah, Mirza Suleiman was on his way through Khyber to meet Emperor Akbar. He found the Khyber route closed by Afridis. His caravan was looted by Bayazid's followers. Bayazid was grieved by this incident. There took place fierce battles  between the rulers of Peshawar and Bayazid's followers. Bayazid was grieved by this incident. According to Akhund Darweza, Bayazid's arch-enemy , Bayazid and his followers were defeated and Bayazid force was utterly shattered. However Bayzid went to Yousafzai country and died after two and half years in 1586 AD.

Shaikh Omar

After the death of Bayazid, his eldest son Shaikh Omar was nominated head of the Roshniya movement. Shaikh omar was opposed by Akhund Darweza, the latter instigated Gujjars, who were dependents of a chieftain Hamza Khan Yousafzai, to dig out the grave of Pir Roshan. Shaikh Umar got timely information about it, reached the scene and prevented the Gujjars from carrying the coffin of his father. Gujjars were punished and as retaliation Shaikh Umar's followers carried away the cattle of Hamza Khan. In the subsequent events, Shaikh Umar was chased out of Yousafzai country and he sought refuge with Dilazaks along the river Indus. Dilazaks betrayed him and killed him along with most of his followers. Only Jalaluddin or Jalala survived.


Then Jalala became the head of Roshniya movement. Jalala became in coming years , an eye sore for the Mughals. He was in control of the mountains and Khyber. It is stated that in 1581, Jalala was well received by Emperor Akbar at Attock. But Jalala left the Imperial camp and fled to the mountains of Tirah. He waged Jihad against the Mughal rule and wanted to establish his independent rule among the Pashtun tribes of Peshawar. He along with the Mohmand and Khalil tribes attacked Peshawar and got Syed Ahmed Bukhari , Deputy of Peshawar, killed. Emperor Akbar has made his mind to uproot Roshniya menace, because they were posing grave challenge to the Imperial authority. Akbar wanted to make the routes secure that connected India with Kabul and to establish Imperial rule in Kabul and Peshawar. Man Singh who was governor of Kabul tried his best to clear the Khyber road but in the presence of Jalala the whole tribe stood under his banner. Seeing Man Singh’s efforts useless, Emperor Akbar dispatched another army under the command of Muttalib, enroute to Bangash area. In one of the encounters five hundred and fifty men of Jalala were killed and nearly one thousand were made captives. But Jalala miraculously escaped to the Tirah hills.

From Tirah, Jalala went to Yousafzais and built Nawala Pass (Nawegai) in Peshwar and defeated the Imperialist force under Aziz Koka. Meanwhile Jalala shifted his camp in the Kafiristan country, north of Bajaur. Takhta Beg was sent to Kafiristan country to assist Aziz Koka against Jalala. Akbar took every measure to uproot Jalala and his movement but couldn’t succeed. The main target of Jalala’s activities and burglaries was the country between Kabul and Peshawar. In 1592, many Roshniyas were killed but Jalala escaped unhurt. He continued his struggle against the Mughal armies. Jalala never moved an inch from his aim inspite of Imperial opposition for such long time.

Akbar sent Mutalib Khan in 1587 against Jalala via Bangash area into Khyber and Tirah. Akbar’s second campaign against Yousafzai in the North and Roshnais in the West didn’t bear any fruit.

Tribes of Swat and Bajaur never bowed down before the authority of Akbar. Again Zain Khan was appointed by Akbar for Yousafzai’s chastisement in 1587 to 1592 , but without meaningful results. They could not establish a permanent footing in the hill country. disturbances in the west remained unabated till 1599.

In one encounter (1592) with the Imperial armies . Jalala’s wives and children were made prisoners but he himself escaped.  In 1599 AD, Jalala shifted his camp to south , in Ghazni. With the help of Lohani tribes, he captured Ghazni. Zain Khan , governor of Kabul was helpless before Jalala. But one stray bullet from Hazara tribe in Ghazni, killed Jalala and the credit of this went to Zain Khan Koka.


Ahdad, son of Shaikh Umar and Jalala’s nephew assumed the status of their leader. However spirits of Jalala and his followers, haunted the Imperial court for a long time , even after the death of Emperor Akbar in 1605 AD.

In 1611 AD,l during the reign of Jehangir, the Roshniyas once again appeared under the leadership of Ahdad. They succeeded in causing revolt in Kabul. Jehangir ,on returning from Kabul in 1607 AD, entrusted the Sardars of Tirah, Bangash, Swat , Bajaur, to the most successful of his father’s officers , Shah beg , the conqueror of Kandahar, with the title of Khan-e-Dauran.

During the reign of Jehangir, headship of the Roshniya sect had gone to Ahdad, nephew of Jalala. Ahdad had married Bibi Alia, the daughter of Jalala, a woman of great beauty and wisdom. It seems at one time , that Khan-e-Dauran , was proving ineffective for Ahdad and Bibi Alia’s Roshniyas. .

At the 10th year of King’s accession to throne , another battle took place between Khan-e-Dauran and Ahdad Roshnai, in which the latter was defeated and one of the closest comrades of Ahdad Barki, was killed. Amidst the growing troubles and Roshniya commotion and raids, Shah Beg (Khan-e-Dauran) was avoiding a test of strength.

Emperor Jehangir couldn’t shut his eyes in face of turmoil, so he appointed Mahabat Khan faujdar of Kabul and Bangash country in 1620 AD. Although Ahdad and Bibi Alia, his wife were spearheading the Roshniya movement , another Allah Dad, son of Jalal-ud-Din of the Bayazid family, too side with Mughals. Allah Dad was appointed naib of Mahabat Khan and was given the title of Rashid Khan , so that he might be helpful in uprooting the Afghan revolt. But their hopes shattered to pieces when Allah Dad also revolted against Mahabat Khan. Jehangir , acting on the advice of Mahabat Khan, showed mercy to Allah Dad.

Mahabat Khan very cleverly invied the Daulatzai chiefs to a feast at Kohat but later one he killed these chiefs nearly three hundred in number. Believing that he had broken the back of Roshniyas, a Mughal army under Ghairat Khan was sent for suppression of Ahdad in the hills of Tirah. At that time Ahdad was staying in Masture (Tirah) valley. Ghairat Khan was instructed by Mahabat Khan to , root-out Ahdad and his remaining followers. The Mughal forces marched from Kohat upto Tirah and Orakzai country. Afridis and Orakzais, under Ahdad Roshnai and Malik Tur Orakzai, were leading the tribal army. The assaulting troops had climbed nearly 2000 feet high in the hills pass, when fighting started between the Mughals and Pashtuns.

One Panju, Feroz Khel Orakzai, had hand to hand fight with Ghairat Khan Mughal. Both fell on the ground and subsequently were died. Mughal forces met a humiliating defeat at the hands of  Roshniyas. Jalal Khan Gakkhar and some other prominent Mughal commanders also fell in this scuffle. Thus Roshniyas repelled the Mughal army with stones and arrows. The royal army reached Kohat in a very shabby conditions . WJehangir was informed about this humiliating defeat , he dispatched the son of Jalal Khan, Akbar Quli, to suppress Roshniya revolt in Bangash area. Ghairat Khan , had left a minor son behind him , so King also rewarded his son.

Roshniya revolt continued unabated under Ahdad, and his activities against Mughals increased many fold. Many ablest and trusted generals were sent but commotion in tribal areas including Peshawar valley continued and the authority of ‘Mighty Mughals’ could not be restored. At all events campaigns against Roshnias continued.

The skirmishes against the Mughal forces became the order of the day. In the year 1626 AD, activities of Adad reached their climax when Tirah and Khyber valley were in strong grip of anti-Mughal feelings. Jehangir was also touring this area and starting for Kabul. Muzaffar Khan ,a Mughal commander was sent against Ahdad and his followers in Lowghar hill in Kohat district. Ahdad was killed by Muzaffar Khan’s men , when the former was moving and challenging Imperial force. The slayer of Ahdad earned great name in the imperial court. He was honoured and dually rewarded. Roshniyas received a serious setback at the death of Ahdad.

The Mughals were also relieved by death of perpetual foe. Ahdad’s head was sent to Jehangir in Kabul, along with his seal of authority and sceptre. At the sight of Ahdad’s head , Jehangir was besides himself with joy. He thanked Allah and ordered that Ahdad’s head should be hung over at the gate of Royal fort in Lahore for public viewing.

Bibi Alai and Abdul Qadir

Activities of Roshniyas continued even after the death of Ahdad. His widow Bibi Alia got her minor son Abdul Qadir, recognized as the chief of Roshniyas. When Jehnagir was returning from Kabul, vales of Tirah and Khyber were swarmed with followers of Ahdad under the spiritual inspiration of his beautiful widow, Bibi Alia.

During the early years of Shah Jahan , the Afghans of frontier regions, gave a very tough time to him. Soon after Jehangir's death , the Afghans of Peshawar valley under the spiritual guidance of Bibi Alia and Abdul Qadir, had utterly routed the Mughal armies  , as the former had declared Jihad against the Mughal invaders.

Lashkar Khan, Subedar of Kabul , had informed the King about Roshnai's activities in detail and Emperor Shah Jahan had issued instructions to eliminate this sect once and for all . After the death of Jehangir, the Mughal army was going to Kabul against the hill tribes under Muzaffar Khan , when once again the Afridi tribesmen besieged the Mughal armies.. The Mughal army had to suffer heavy losses in men and material. This time the attack was led by Bibi Alia and her son Abdul Qadir. In panic Muzaffar Khan fled and even his wives fell into Abdul Qadir's hands. Later on, one of his wives was recovered with the efforts of Said Khan , ruler of Kohat.

The humiliating defeat of the Royal army at the hands of Afghan tribes had caused damage to the Mughal's prestige. That was the time when Shah Jahan was enforcing his authority in the rest of India. But here in North West, tribes of this area were posing direct threat to his authority. Shah Jahan was perturbed over the defeat of Mughal army in the Khyber , when all of a sudden news reached the court of tribals attacking Peshawar

Pashtun tribes attack on Peshawar

Muzaffar Khan's ignominious defeat at the hands of tribes, created a stir among different tribes. All Afghan tribes stood for the cause of Bibi Alia and Abdul Qadir. On June 12, 1630 A.D, in a great assembly of tribes comprising Afridis, Orakzais, Bangash, Turis and Mohmands, was held at Alam Godar near Peshawar . It was unanimously decided to invest the city of Peshawar and eliminate the Mughal authority. Abdul Qadir's right hand in investment of Peshawar was Kamal-ud-din, son of Sher Khan Afghan, ruler of Peshawer during reign of Jahangir. The city of Peshawer was besieged by the Afghans. The Mughal chiefs took refuge in the four walls of Bala Hisar and thus saved their lives with great difficulties. According to Amal-al-Salih, the Afghan rebellion against Mughals was inspired by Khan Jahan Lodi, the ruler of Deccan.

But luck favored the Mughals and there was disruption among the Tribal chiefs , Said Khan, deputy governor of Kohat, was instructed to quell the rebellion. Said Khan was assissted by Lala Khan Kakar, prominent noble of Shah Jahan, who reached the scene abruptly . On the other side , seeing disunity and disruption among the ranks of Lashkar, Abdul Qadir retired to Tirah hills along with some loyal followers.

Intriguing diplomacy and sudden attack of Said Khan, the disrupted Afghan lashkar had to suffer great losses this time. Said Khan was not only a brave general but also a diplomat of high caliber. Many Afghans of Yousafzai and Gigyani tribes were either killed or arrested. Some how Mughal authority was restored again in and around Peshawer. Shah Jahan was so pleased with Said Khan that he raised his mansab to 4000 Sawar and appointed him Governor of Peshawer.

Surrender and end of Roshnai movement

Said Khan was man of tricks and abilities. Shah Jahan was also keen to establish friendly relations with rebellious Afghans of Frontier region and he wanted a lasting solution to the trouble. In the meantime Said Khan by use of carrot and stick policy induced Bibi Alia and Abdul Qadir to lay arms before the Mughals for honorable living and monetary considerations. On the interference of Said Khan, Emperor Shah Jahan granted Abdul Qadir a Mansab of 1000/6000 and a reward of Rs.10,000/- upon his submission in 1633 A.D .Abdul Qadir soon died a natural death while his mother Bibi Alia and other relatives and followers, were well treated by Shah Jahan in the court and sent to Rashid Khan Ansari , who was posted at Deccan.

Thus Mughals were free of their old enemies for ever  due to Said Khan's efforts and diplomacy. With the disappearance of Bibi Alia and Abdul Qadir from scene , the movement died a natural death. The movement a political force subsided in frontier though as religious sect it lingered longer. Two rocks at Indus river near Attock fort still bear the names of Aliliyia and Kamaliya, which perpetuate the memories of these troubled times.

The Roshnais in Kurram

The Turis of Paiwar were two centuries ago, Roshnais, and that sect once possessed considerable power in Kurram as well in Tirah. At the time of Jehangir's death in 1627, Abdul Qadir, the son of Ihdad, was in the Kurram valley whence he advanced into Tirah. In 1637-38 the tribes about Baghzan had lately re-called Karim Dad, son of Jalala, with his disciples who had been driven out by the Mughals and compelled to take in refuge in the Muhani country. From Baghzan the Roshnais advanced on Tirah which was disaffected by the Mughals. For the purpose of reducing Orakzais and Afridis the subahdar of Kabul, Muzaffar Khan assembled , 15,000 Afghan levies, with the troops under Raja Jagat Singh, thanadar of the Bangashat, and other leaders, and 2000 cavalry of his own contingent, placing the whole force under Muhammad Yaqub, Kashmiri. But before this force reached Baghzan from Kabul , the people had put to death a brother of Karim Dad Khan and a brother of Azar Mir, Orakzai. The people of Lakan in Khost, however , fled with Karim Dad Khan and his followers to maintain fastnesses and the Mughal force destroyed their villages. The winter snows, however soon compelled them to surrender Karim Dad with the family and dependents and he was soon after , under orders from the Emperor, put to death at Peshawar.

Pir Roshan


1- Gazetteer of Peshawar district

2- Maulana Abdul Qadus, Muqadima Khair-ul-bayan

3- Bahadur Shah Zafar, Pukhtana da Tareekh pa ranra ke

4- Abul Fazal, Akbarnama

5- Smith V.A, Akbar the great Mughal

6- Allah Bakhsh Yusfi, Yousfzai Afghan

7- A.H Dani, Peshawar historic city of the frontier

8- Tuzk Jehangir

9- Careo, Pathan

10- Muhammad Shafi Sabir, Tarikh-i-subah sarhad

11- Komboh, Amala-i-Salih

12- Masir-ul-Umara. Barmazid-67